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aluminum cans for creosote removal

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Riddler, Dec 3, 2005.

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  1. Riddler

    Riddler New Member

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    I have had several people tell me that if i put 2 or 3 pop cans in my stove it will help with creosote and fogging of the glass. Has anybody heard of this or tried it?

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I can put potasium nitraite and zink and turn My stove into a rocket ship but I will leave that to Houston
    Never heard of that . Is thee any documentation to support the theory
  3. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    There is this guy who routinely goes around home shows giving seminars on how people can use common houshold products for uses other than intended. Sheets of bounce as a mosquito repellent, tang to clean your dishwasher, etc. One of his recommendations is to use coke to clean your sink, or if you flush a can down the toilet it will keep the bowl clean. It is a pretty acidic, and so it is a effective cleaner.

    I don't think the same idea should be extended to stoves - although I did hear that ash and creosote are somewhat alkaline - the idea of using ash from your stove to mix with your garden soil to raise its pH has been around for a long time. Perhaps the idea came from someone thinking the coke acid will neutralize away some of this ash. Can't imagine how that will clean anything, though, it will just leave behind some other salt.

    In any case, if you are going to try this, try it only on the stove glass. As for the creosote, I think it is wiser to stick to running a brush down the chimney every so often
  4. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    Elk, pottasium nitrate and zinc? Geez.. now I know how I can have a homemade cannonball launcher. Don't suppose it will pass fire code eeh ;-)
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I've heard of batteries, ducks down the chimney (geese?) that clean as they try to scratch their way out and many other such things...but until we get a chemist here telling us that aluminum is what they use in the anti-creosote formulas, I'm not likely to believe.

    Let's see- I think potatos was also one of the creosote removers......

    I think I'd worry more about the chemical released into the neighborhood by the aluminum, although I suppose most of the "melt" just ends up as a tiny chunk in the ashes.

    Now we'll see if we have any chemists here...
  6. Riddler

    Riddler New Member

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    I guess I didnt word my question right. I didnt mean to say take the coke itself and use it. I meant to say take a crushed aluminum can and put it on your fire. the melting aluminum puts off a chemical that is suppose to reduce creosote and soot. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I would also like to say that I have learned so much from all the info on this site. Thanks
  7. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    This would seem to be right up my alley as a chemist working at a research & development lab. I will go on record and say that I really don't see how it would work. I would have to dive in to more research, but on the surface, creosote is basically an oily liquid (I will spare all the -ol, -ine, -one true chemical names) Aluminum is just a moderately reactive metal, so when you throw the can on the fire, all you will get is a puddle of aluminum if the fire is cool, or little flakes of aluminum oxide if the fire is hotter. So a puddle of aluminum is doing no good just laying in the bottom of the firebox, and aluminum oxide is pretty unreactive...probably somewhat on the order of beach sand or plain dirt, so I don't see that doing much either.

    There are a couple of pathways I could see this working. If somehow (that I can't imagine) the aluminum oxide (or some other part of the can such as the label ink or the inner liner) would catalyze a reaction with the creosote. But I don't know of any use of aluminum, ink, or varnish as any type of catalyist. (not to say it doesent exist, though) Or, what I believe is most probable...the thought of burning an aluminum can leads you to stoke a nice hot fire to "really melt that sucker!" The hot fire does most of the cleaning. Sort of a carrot-on-a-stick approach.

    Just for giggles, I may chuck a couple of cans in the fire tonight and see if it has any effect. My glass is a little sooted from some recent low burns so that should be easy to see. I don't know if I will make a trip to the roof to check out the creosote...it's kind of cold up there right now!

    Corey
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Craig observed:

    "I’ve heard of batteries, ducks down the chimney (geese?) that clean as they try to scratch their way out and many other such things..."

    Yeah, the ducks did fairly well but the geese got stuck in the chimney and it was a hell of a mess.
  9. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    I'd have to agree with Frank, however I think that besides burning, there are ways that an aluminum can could help you keep creosote out of your chimney..........

    Reward yourself to a cold one (soda or beer, your choice), AFTER you've swept your chimney, and OFF the roof. '-)

    Willhound
  10. PaulGuy

    PaulGuy New Member

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    Okay, another chemist here, though as an organic chemist this is not my area of expertise, however Corey is right on the money. If the can melts it would do nothing, if it is oxidized it makes aluminum oxide which if you have big enough pieces look like little rocks. In the lab we use them as boiling chips. Pretty inert stuff. Coke as a cleaner on the other hand, sure! It's loaded with phosphoric acid. How do you think they get all that sugar to stay in solution.

    BTW
    If you actually heat aluminum cans hot enough to melt or react my guess is you're over heating your stove big time!
  11. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I wouldnt trust it with a Stainless chimney

    Galvanic corrosion is a BAD thing esp for a chimney
    Pitting could create BAD issues
  12. heatxchanger

    heatxchanger New Member

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    Hello all,

    Aluminum is a very reactive metal. I assume most people have sat around a camp fire at one time or another and have thrown a beer can (aluminum) in the fire. The can does not melt into a puddle of aluminum but rather quickly burns. When heated it combines with oxygen to from aluminum oxide - you know the active ingrediant on sand paper. Women pay big buck for tinted aluminum oxide crystals in the from of rubies and saphires. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth's crust - do you realize that 8.2% of the ground we walk on is aluminum?

    Anyway, aluminum metal releases an enormous amount of energy when it combines with oxygen. This fact is not overlooked. Powdered aluminum is the fuel inside the solid rocket boosters that puts the space shuttle into space. Powdered aluminum is the primary fuel inside every firecracker.

    Now, since aluminum metal releases an enourmous amount of energy when it combines with oxygen it stands to reason that it takes an anormous amount of energy to seperate aluminum oxide back into oxygen and aluminum metal. This is correct and is the reason why aluminuim cans are re-cycled. Remember, aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth - the reason it costs so much is because it took so much energy in the form of electrity to seperate it from the oxygen in aluminum oxide. The is why when the price of electricity goes up so does the price of aluminum metal.

    Oh yeah, I can't see how burning beer cans in your stove would eliminate cresote. They definitely would provide heat (they literally are rocket fuel) but I think you are financially better off re-cycling them as the last time I did I received just over 50 cents per pound (21 cans make a pound I think).

    True story: I know a guy who purchased 10 pounds of finely powdered aluminum last year. The FBI came with a search warrent and took it away. They were concerned that he was going to make a "large" firecracker.

    Stay warm!
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The FBI should have come and got my Pro Mac 610 a few years ago. After the adventure of it expoding and setting my shirt on fire I got to stand behind a tree and watch first the gas tank burn, then the oil tank lit off and then that set off the aluminum housing. You are very right. That metal burns white hot. Quite a show if you aren't concerned about the woods going up with it.

    I should have just thrown it in the woodstove to clean the chimney.

    Seriously, you do not want something that hot burning in your stove. Trust me on this. Is was an incredible fire when that aluminum ignited. A lot like white phosporus.
  14. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    In searching based on heatxchanger's post I discovered the naked scientist's forum. Oh my god - wanna know how to make a bomb - go there. There is some scary stuff on the 'net.
  15. JAred

    JAred New Member

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    Speaking of burning metal I used to have a 5'' round solid stock of magnessium. I would cut 1'' slices of it with the band saw and save them for camping. We'd get a good fire going and toss one of those in there and about fifteen minutes later it looked like a damn football stadium was lit up in the woods! serously tho burning metal is a dangerous business. once while cutting a slice of that stuff I accidently sent some sparks from a grinder at the band saw and all those shaving went up and I was franticly attempting to put it out. luckly I was able to spread the shaving out on the floor with my glove and no harm was done....
  16. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    Burning metal isn't dangerous if you are away from it. Cutting magnesium on a band saw knowing what its burn properties are - that does sound dangerous to me.
  17. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    And men also pay big bucks for highly compressed ash and creosote - in the form of diamonds.
  18. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    Huh? You tried to clean while a little too hot, or what?
  19. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    I'm bouncing up an old thread, has anyone ever heard of or thrown in an aluminum can into their stove now and again to burn off creosote? My furnace guy (who's also a wood burner) advocated this & said that aluminum oxide is impregnated into 'creosote sweeping logs'. I wouldn't replace the need for regular 'ole physical sweeping of my liner, nor would I use a sweep log in my insert. But anything to cut down on the build-up of creosote to me is worth considering.

    Thanks
  20. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    censored!!!!
  21. samandlillie

    samandlillie Member

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    Google thermite reaction . You will see the energy released when aluminum reacts with other metals.
    Retired chem. teacher.
  22. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, that is mentioned in one of the thread responses. So a small thermite reaction takes place. Have you used aluminum cans in your wood stove then?

    Thanks
  23. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    censored !?!?!
  24. Captain Hornet

    Captain Hornet Member

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    I have been burning Pepsi cans in my stove for a couple of weeks or so. I usually throw two or three in every day. The cans melt and just go away. I have not been able to find any left over traces of the cans so I know the burning part works. Grandfather told me about this and he is positive it works. I don't think all this foolishness does anything for my flue as I have detected no changes at all. Good way to get rid of Pepsi cans though. David
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    GREAT NEWS! I'VE FOUND A BETTER WAY AND IT IS EVEN EASIER!

    Open firebox door, insert good dry wood. Close door and let it burn. With this method, cleaning becomes less and less of a problem; stove works like it is supposed to work and family stays nice and warm without the fear of chimney fires. Check chimney after each cord of wood burned. Clean chimney as necessary; usually annually.
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